Black Chamber is a Portland, Oregon-based trio playing music that blends the improvisational sounds of modal jazz with the moods and rhythms of downtempo electronica.
Black Chamber is:
Brian McCauley – drums
Chris Gustafson – upright bass
David Binnig – trumpet and samples
The band filters the sounds of classic post-bop jazz through their own post-rock, post-hip-hop musical experiences, blending live improvisation with scratchy samples. With no traditional chordal instrument, the group focuses on deep rhythms, expansive melodies, and atmospheric textures, while using electronic processing to expand the harmonic possibilities of the trumpet.
So I listened to this and I enjoyed it tremendously and it instantly became one of my favorite releases of the year. But in my head I lazily filed it as some awesome vaguely psychedelic downtempo jazz, without much further consideration. And then I was asked to recommend something else that sounds like this and after some thought I realized I was coming up short, especially on the ‘pure’ jazz front. Burial popped into mind briefly, but that didn’t feel right, not nearly jazz enough. Skalpel and a few other Ninja Tune veterans are close, but also not quite it. There’s something more nuanced happening here that I didn’t originally notice. It’s not that Black Chamber’s music is so unique as to be peerless, analogues to it definitely do exist. It’s more like they’ve hit that sweet spot where the sound is both new and intangibly familiar and it’s hard to find an easy dead ringer for it.
I might very well be over-thinking all this, or my knowledge base might not be wide enough. My first sentence is clear evidence that you don’t really need to dissect this music to enjoy it. In fact that initial description I tagged onto it is actually perfectly serviceable. Put this on late at night when it’s time to turn things down, and it’s virtually guaranteed to hit the spot. If you plan on doing opiates, this album is your best friend. But it also merits deeper examination, if you’re so inclined.
Gotta give massive props to TROY’s Sam (no ‘Legs’) Diamond for putting me onto this one.